Friday night I finally saw “Wicked the Musical” – it’s the first time it’s been on where I’ve lived – yip yah!! What can I say? It was brilliant! All except for the fact we were 45 minutes late due to horrendous Friday night traffic – ahhhhhh. Next time we’ll definitely order a cab, although the long taxi line at the end of the night when one’s feet hurt the most is equally unappealing. Essentially Not too many win-wins with either transport option.

The reason I wanted to see Wicked is because when I read the book many years ago, it touched me very deeply. In fact, I’d have to say I found it one of the most profound books I’ve ever read. Some may think that’s a bit weird, because it’s just a fairy tale after all, but let me explain. “The Wizard of Oz” is one of the most enduring stories of our time. Most people know it, love it and happily kick their heels up to its famous tunes. Dorothy is beloved by us all, as is Judy Garland for taking on the role, and the essence of every character is firmly set in our hearts. Would you agree?

Bring in Wicked, the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, and now there’s a lot more to the story. Elphalba was a confused young girl, coping with being extremely different in her green-ness or “ugly,” smart and powerful, deeply unfashionable, and she had a very strong sense of justice. As it does, life played its hand, she got pissed off about a lot of injustice in her world, and thus a young girl evolves into a young woman that many people do not understand, and she is judged harshly and victimized. The “Powers” in the World of Oz declare her an outcast when she won’t join their crew, and the public blindly follow and accept her as evil. Ring any bells?

When I read the book I couldn’t believe it. I was mesmerized by the possibility of a very different Wicked Witch to the one I thought I always knew. It completely turned everything on its head for me, but it was more than that. For many years before, I was already trying to look at any situation, person or news from different angles. I never wanted to accept one truth on anything, without trying to see if there was another way (or multiple ways) of seeing a situation. I don’t know why I did this, although I think it started when I read an article on the Davidian Cult from Waco, Texas (remember that?) in a natural therapy magazine 10 years before then. This article told that story in a very different way to any I had heard before. It shook me then, as Wicked shook me over a decade later.

While it is exhausting to look at the world this way, I have continued to always try and look at everything from alternative viewpoints. I need to do it. I can’t accept anything from a single perspective, because there are always more perspectives, but like I said, it does get exhausting. However, it’s also why I believe no one has the right to judge anyone – EVER. No one has every angle of a person’s story. No one knows why someone behaves as they do in a situation they are in. Heck no one knows why people put themselves into some situations! We think we know, but we never do, and for me, when Gregory McGuire wrote Wicked, he was making a very powerful (yet subtle) statement challenging us to look at the world in a different way. It’s a very political book, but for me it’s about how individuals grow based on the experiences life throws at them. I can also recommend his other books – I think I’ve read most of them. But Wicked remains my favourite.

I’m bummed I missed the start of the show, but I was more bummed for Steve, because he missed a lot of the context around her earlier life. I know we’ll go again (I’m thinking of taking Lex next time), but before I do, I have to dust off Wicked and read it again. I loved that book. It changed my life, and it remains a reason I buy it as a gift for so many people – I really do think it’s that powerful.

Yours, Without the Bollocks

PS: if you’re holding back on going because you think it’s too expensive, please try and think of it in another way. Live musical theatre provides jobs for tremendously talented people – singers, dancers, musicians, stage designers, costume designers, make-up artists, and more. I love the fact we live in a world where people with these remarkable gifts can be the best they can be while earning a living from it. Please support the arts so amazing people can continue to pursue their passions and give us the gift of their talent. It would be a sad world if these types of experiences disappeared because we no longer made supporting it a priority. It’s not a cheap night out, but it’s always a worthwhile experience – I promise xxxx
PPS: If you’re interested, you can follow me on Twitter @withoutbollocks

6 Responses

  1. Well, I haven't read the book or seen the show but it sounds like I should – the theme certainly resonates and I'm certainly with you on supporting the arts! So glad to see Singapore is making an effort to bring top-line shows here! As always, thanks for sharing 😉

  2. Thanks Andrea, nice blog. I only read the book after being familiar with the musical (and, in a grand parental faux pas, allowed my then 11-year old daughter to read the book before I did … !). Anyhow. A couple of things. I started using opposing viewpoints in about year 9, as a way of breaking boredom in class and being humorous and perverse. Later, with some philosophy of science behind me, it's kind of second nature. Always ask "who says?", immediately followed by "why?". Always. Those questions help to put things into context and give you deeper insight into any statement.

    On "Wicked, the Musical", I just love it. Stephen Schwartz (who wrote it) also wrote "Godspell", and a number of Disney musicals including "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". The latter is a much under-rated musical experience, which also includes Tom Hulce (remember "Amadeus"?) in the lead role doing some fantastic and very challenging singing. The musical cleans up the book for a more popular audience, but the bones are still there, and it's a great experience. Highly recommended.

  3. Anu and Sarah you'd both love it for different reasons, and Glenn, I can definitely see that – it does become second nature once you start – which is a very good thing. You make me laugh letting your 11 year old read it!! Some good educational stuff xxxxxx

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